Ho Chi Minh City mulls dyke to curb flooding

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The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Irrigation has unveiled a VND11 trillion (US$564 million) dyke project that it says will prevent flooding caused by river tides.

The project, which includes 12 major culverts, won support from many scientists at a meeting last Tuesday (November 2).

However, some experts expressed concerns saying they were construction standards for such projects yet.

They also said that because the culverts will control tides and keep the water level in rivers and canals in downtown areas at 0.6 to 1 meter, traffic jams will happen on waterways.

Pham The Vinh of the Southern Institute of Irrigation Science, echoed such concerns, saying that besides traffic congestion on waterways, there was a need to study environmental issues, including pollution caused by the attached sewer system.
Ho Chi Minh City will suffer more frequent and severe flooding affecting millions of people, if current climate change trends continue, said a report released by the Asian Development Bank last month.

Around 26 percent of the HCMC population is currently affected by extreme storm events but the number could climb to more than 60 percent by 2050, according to the report.

Dr. Le Phu of the HCMC Department of Irrigation told the meeting that apart from river tides and rains, poor management was a major cause of flooding in the city, citing encroachment of water bodies as an example.

"The government regulates that the water surface area in the city must be 17 percent at least, but the real number is less than 15 percent," said Phu, "In downtown areas, the figure is only 5 percent."

Dr. Pham Van Long agreed with Phu, warning that if the management shortcomings are not acknowledged and addressed, the effectiveness of flood prevention efforts would be less than expected even if the city spends billions of dong every year.

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